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Poster: William Tell Date: Jan 15, 2010 7:48am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Whats so damn atheistical about the dead?

Interesting points above...I think it is an especially complex and difficult to discern component of the boys, BUT overall, entirely IMHO, I would say that most of the time they were largely detached/disengaged from all mainstream religious movements. This was largely true of most of the SF scene, and of course, goes hand in hand with the explicit rejection of the "establishment" since religion, in general, was part of the perc'd problem of the day (along with guvermint).

From interviews and such, I would venture to say most band members were agnostic, perhaps tending toward closet atheists (classic Jerry, uninterested in making a stand given the prospect of conflict, etc.). From their lyrics, those that they wrote themselves were, again IMHO, never overtly religious in theme (note: the mere references to God and such are almost used without literal significance, in my view), and the singing of old time gospel tunes, again, by historical tradition, almost can be viewed as relatively independent of the literal appearance.

I think most of the DEAD, like most of the SF folks, viewed organized religion, again, as part of the problem of society at the time, and yet, as with many of us, this had little to do with personal perspectives of "spirituality"...

I think they probably all agreed with Grace (ha!) when she sang:

"Every time I laugh, I got religion!"

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Poster: spacedface Date: Jan 15, 2010 10:17pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Whats so damn atheistical about the dead?

"From interviews and such, I would venture to say most band members were agnostic, perhaps tending toward closet atheists (classic Jerry, uninterested in making a stand given the prospect of conflict, etc.). From their lyrics, those that they wrote themselves were, again IMHO, never overtly religious in theme (note: the mere references to God and such are almost used without literal significance, in my view)"

It seems more like it was agnostic to most of the historical stratified forms of organized religion. The counterculture, and the Bay Area in particular, was amazing in its openness to non-Christian forms. Thank God for that mind expansion.

It might have been to suggestible states but my experience of those lyrics, esp in shows, was that spiritual references were very pointed. Including references to God.

"The Wheel" for example -- for me -- always had a very "literal significance." I have to admit that "Jesus loves you the best" made me squirm a little so I like the Skull & Roses" instrumental snippet better at the end of NFA/GDTR.

And Not Fade Away for me was not a love song between people, who all fade away. I didn't hear that song the same way from the Stones. The GD helped me understand other songs by others from a better viewpoint, like Vision On The Sand from George Harrison's Cloud Nine for example.

What is that fountain not made by the hands of men?

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Poster: William Tell Date: Jan 16, 2010 6:29am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Whats so damn atheistical about the dead?

Oh yeah, I can see how the lyrics can be taken literally, and such...my point was that they can also be ascribed to being virtually meaningless, or viewed in a purely historical, culturally traditional sense...we sing lots of songs that have morphed from their origin, and we just like the structure of the lyrics and music and such...the DEAD played lots of tunes in which this was true (ie, Hunter would say there is little "strict literal" significance; rather, the words just "fit" well in the progression.

My other point is that if the DEAD were as religious as many seem to think, we would have heard more about it...with all that has been written about them all, over the thirty yrs and more of the band's activities, clearly, or at least to me, religious activities just were not apart of what the boys did on or off stage. It wasn't that they kept their personal lives completely isolated either--we'd know if they were practicing, either within mainstream, or even in a spiritual sense, it seeems to me.

So, I would conclude by saying I can see where folks are coming from with a particular interpretation from the literal sense of lyrics, but given alternative explanations for those song choices, and the absence of any hard evidence of the boys spirituality in most any sense, I conclude it was not a big part of the experience. It certainly wasn't in the 60s and 70s in the Bay Area.

I will note that in scanning some additional material for this discussion the last day or two, I did come across a great deal related to movements in the late 80s and 90s suggesting that some heads clearly bought into a strange, cultish aspect of the DEAD, and a "myth" of their significance in this domain blossomed (ie, the DEAD as a religious experience, literally). So, that might have something to do with it later...

All speculation in the end, of course; more so than usual I guess.

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Poster: spacedface Date: Jan 16, 2010 5:59pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Whats so damn atheistical about the dead?

"the absence of any hard evidence of the boys spirituality in most any sense, I conclude it was not a big part of the experience. It certainly wasn't in the 60s and 70s in the Bay Area."

While they didn't wear their hearts on their sleeves, what I gather from coincidence is different from you.

The imagery of the songs and videos, the sources, interviews on experiences of Garcia and fans, and associations do indicate significant spirituality, sincere if somewhat superficial at times.

But I wouldn't ascribe the lack of talking about the IT of good shows meant there the GD really thought it was just another Saturday night. Why else would people put up with so many so-so shows. The GD experience was hardly secular -- to the point of Garcia saying there was experience at shows that involved giving up your will and he didn't want to responsible. I can't find the quote on that one, so I don't know if it was from Signposts, a mimeographed interview that floated around, something from The Golden Road, or from Gans.

Here's some stuff on a day called Ritual & Rapture with Joseph Campbell, Garcia, Hart and others:
http://www.sirbacon.org/joseph_campbell.htm

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Poster: DianaW Date: Jan 15, 2010 8:04am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Whats so damn atheistical about the dead?

Well I have recently had arguments with folks trying to convince me that being an atheist and a deadhead were incompatible, because the dead were agnostic. I had to agree agnostic was probably the safest term for it.

If you start thinking about the lyrics there's hints of the spiritual in practically every song. Sometimes you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right ... and of course (sorry if trite), sometimes the light's all shinin' on me, other times I can barely see ... leaves an open question as to what this light is.

there's my morning's ramble, I had better get to work.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Jan 15, 2010 10:14am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Whats so damn atheistical about the dead?

Hmmm--I am really baffled by that "Heads cannot be atheists"

Where the heck does that come from? Did they literally suggest that the DEAD in some way represent religion, or being a christian or some such?

Or, did they mean heads in general are christian-esque (charitable, vow of poverty, etc.)? Of course, I find this notion laughable, but there is a persistent myth to this effect.

Care to expand, or not worth it? Really got my curiosity up.

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Poster: clashcity Date: Jan 15, 2010 10:46am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Whats so damn atheistical about the dead?

"Did they literally suggest that the DEAD in some way represent religion"

I knew folks I attended high school with who really felt the Grateful Dead, or at least the things they represented were a religion to be followed.

Now these folks were quite self-serving with their beliefs and such. I can recall numerous occasions at shows being chastised for not following "the way" or the "true path" and a whole slew of other nonsense.

The were sort of like Trusta-farians without the trust funds.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Jan 15, 2010 10:58am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Whats so damn atheistical about the dead?

Ha! Love it: "Trusta-farians without the trust funds."

Oh yeah, CC--I can see that component, and certainly, we all sorta manifest that aspect (we worship the DEAD in some sense, and resent those that don't see we've been annointed, etc., etc....hmmm, does this make me, as PM, a High Priest? That works on a couple of levels, eh? Har, har).

Or, did you mean they literally viewed them as representing a traditional religion in some sense? Not just a band that we observed in a religious fashion with various cultish components, etc.

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Poster: clashcity Date: Jan 15, 2010 11:47am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Whats so damn atheistical about the dead?

I'm not sure how far they really got with the Grateful Dead being the God role, or Garcia in the God role... but they were part "spinner" and always referred to "the family".

I usually walked away from the conversation when it turned to my not following the path the enlightenment, and the true way, etc...

I went to see a rock band, and while there were certain elements, or a sense of it being spiritual... for these folks I knew they saw it as church.

This post was modified by clashcity on 2010-01-15 19:47:29

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Poster: spacedface Date: Jan 15, 2010 10:43pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Whats so damn atheistical about the dead?

Some saw it as a UFO cult, complete with multidimensional portals!

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Poster: elbow1126 Date: Jan 15, 2010 11:10am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Whats so damn atheistical about the dead?

http://www.archive.org/iathreads/post-view.php?id=90484

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Poster: William Tell Date: Jan 15, 2010 11:16am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Whats so damn atheistical about the dead?

Ha! Great example of how "spirituality" doesn't equal "spirits" (ie, these spinners and such are the epitome of "be here now"....

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Poster: jglynn1.2 Date: Jan 15, 2010 11:04am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Whats so damn atheistical about the dead?

Are those the folks from VT with the big Bus that hand out the religious themed stuff at shows?

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Poster: DianaW Date: Jan 15, 2010 1:07pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Whats so damn atheistical about the dead?

The person just meant that since the dead aren't atheists, judging from their lyrics, my atheism was inconsistent with deadhead-ism. It was really just a way to give an atheist a hard time - lots of religious people like to badger atheists. It's sport.

OTOH, I've also been told the dead a cult, and I'm a little more sensitive to that accusation as I've had a bit of trouble staying out of cults of one sort or another. I *do* think they're sort of a cult, though not in the dangerous sense.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Jan 15, 2010 1:29pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Whats so damn atheistical about the dead?

Oh yeah, I can see the "cult" aspect, but like you, only in a "good way".

And, the whole "lyrics about God" is misplaced, as we noted above...the notion that "what you sing is only what you endorse" is patently absurd.

Does this mean that Dave Torbert endorsed the positions of Andy Jackson because he sang Battle of New Orleans? Does this mean Bob would really leave his uncle for dead by the side of the road? Does anyone for a moment think there is ANY significance to I Hear a Voice Calling because Bob sang it? I say it was entirely because they thought they could do that song well. End of story.

Jerry sang gospel tunes cause they come with the territory with bluegrass. Period.

The real problem with anyone that imagines the DEAD represented ANYTHING that ANY religion would aspire to has to simply look at what the Summer of Love represented. It was an absolutely hedonistic, self centered exercise as ever there was, rejecting all manner of traditional religious expression and practice. Jerry was quite some distance from what most of us would consider "good christian" practices, but that misses the point...we love him for his music, not his day to day antics with respect to honoring his parents, loving his wife, and raising his kids, all of which by his own admission, he did poorly, and certainly without any notion of following someone's "rule book" about proper behavior.

OK, there, that's off my chest--not that you didn't already know that...

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Poster: spacedface Date: Jan 15, 2010 10:46pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Whats so damn atheistical about the dead?

"Jerry sang gospel tunes cause they come with the territory with bluegrass. Period."

You know this how? I'm assuming you sort of believe in the some efficacy of scientific method.

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Poster: headgdhead Date: Jan 16, 2010 5:23am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Whats so damn atheistical about the dead?

Yah I always thought it came from his love of the harmonies in Soul music. Donna & Keith also influenced Jerry when it came to gospel.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Jan 16, 2010 6:37am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Whats so damn atheistical about the dead?

SF: well, it's my view that the choice of those songs was made without reference to the spiritual significance...suppose I came on too strong? My point is that it is equally, if not more compelling to imagine that gospel tunes are selected because they come with the territory when one does blue grass.

Just as when someone decides to "do" Christmas music. One would never say, "hey, this guy did Christmas songs at the Holiday special!! He must be religious or spiritual!", right?

Right? He could have done them simply because he was asked to play some Holiday tunes and they are the ones available. Overly simplistic analogy, but in the absence of ANY evidence of religious/spiritual expressions by the boys over the years, off stage, I just don't see the DEAD as in any way religious.

Again, that quote someone used above said it all: "...the best part about the 60s...the spiritual..." by Jerry makes clear that sense the 60s were largely a rejection of traditional religion, and an awakening of inner exploration, etc., his view of spirituality was probably much more secular--that's what I've been driving at throughout this discussion.

Of course, hard to know for sure, but his actions on a personal level over the years do not reflect a deeply spiritual man, IMHO.

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Poster: spacedface Date: Jan 16, 2010 7:35pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Whats so damn atheistical about the dead?

""...the best part about the 60s...the spiritual..." by Jerry makes clear that sense the 60s were largely a rejection of traditional religion, and an awakening of inner exploration, etc., his view of spirituality was probably much more secular"

Traditional religion IS spiritual -- that's the whole point. Please don't get lost in the bureaucracy.

There was a reason that the Catholic hierarchy (and US slavemasters later) didn't want the rabble to actual have access to the scripture.

This post was modified by spacedface on 2010-01-17 03:35:21

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Poster: vapors Date: Jan 16, 2010 7:20am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Ride The Mighty High

Interesting discussion. I'm not too anxious to come clean here with my personal 'spiritual' GD experience, but for what it’s worth I just came across this interesting quote from Jerry in the book ‘Garcia: A Signpost To A New Space’.

“I think basically the Grateful Dead is not for cranking out rock and roll, it’s not for going out and doing concerts or any of that stuff. I think it’s to get high. To get really high is to forget yourself. And to forget yourself is to see everything else. And to see everything else is to become an understanding molecule in evolution, a conscious tool of the universe. And I think every human being should be a conscious tool of the universe.”

Made me look at "Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world" in a new light.


This post was modified by vapors on 2010-01-16 15:20:27

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Poster: William Tell Date: Jan 16, 2010 8:36am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Ride The Mighty High

Hey D--that's a great example of what I am getting at in attempting to describe my view of their "spirituality"...it is clearly, IMHO anyhow, a complete rejection of the traditional, deity based notion of spirituality. This is an individualistic, humanistic form of spirituality, quite distinct and apart from traditional religious perspectives.

In fact, it seems another example of their lack of the traditional, God based forms of spirituality. It seems obvious that these sorts of comments and lyrics, etc., would have been linked to mention of God, religion, etc., being a part of this experience, if it held any significance for them. The fact that in so many examples they fail to make that sort of connection makes a strong case for them having the classic, 60s based model of individualistic, center of the universe (each person is the "eyes of the world"), unbounded by the connection and control and community a deity would entail.

Good example...thanks!

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Poster: spacedface Date: Jan 16, 2010 6:47pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Ride The Mighty High

I do see there are different takes on all this, some see things a long time coming. I just don't appreciate some so much. Mostly Grace Slick leaves me cold, but she had some funny stuff:

2 thousand years, 2 thousand years, 2 thousand years of your God damned glory

That album was pretty hard to take literally.

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Poster: spacedface Date: Jan 16, 2010 7:38pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Ride The Mighty High

"strong case for them having the classic, 60s based model of individualistic, center of the universe (each person is the "eyes of the world"), unbounded by the connection and control and community a deity would entail."

Your model isn't the only one. You must realize that if you admit you're secular.

I think the idea in spirituality and religion is that the more you are in harmony with the rest of creation -- for example "are you kind" -- then the more you are in tune and can see from the "eyes of the world."

That waking up is the dawning of the light of the spirit. Easier said than done -- but Leave it on!

This post was modified by spacedface on 2010-01-17 03:38:01

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Poster: William Tell Date: Jan 17, 2010 5:03am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Ride The Mighty High

OK, boy--that was a lot of replies!

As I said below, the point I am on about is I don't think the boys believed in God or we would have heard more about "God is this," or "God gave me this gift" or what have you...with all that is written, it would've come up if they were spiritual in that tradtional, simple sense.

And, I think enough folks have made the point now, okay, so don't take it personally: you cannot make ANYTHING out of ANY lyrics anyone sings (cause it can go any way you want it to! That's my point).

Now, if you accept the following is "spiritual", then we actually agree (I imagine Jerry saying something lame like this):

"I believe we are all connected...I believe there is something like universal consciousness...I do not believe there is one entity that created us, controls us, looks out for us (tr God), but I believe in...blah, blah, blah"

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Poster: spacedface Date: Jan 18, 2010 12:16am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Ride The Mighty High

"Now, if you accept the following is "spiritual", then we actually agree (I imagine Jerry saying something lame like this)"

The problem is imagining something like that.

Again the GD was wary of wearing their hearts on their sleeves. It leaves room for growth and a more private life, and avoids controversies that John Lennon got himself by talking a lot.

You mind me a bit of Han Solo:
“I've seen a lot of strange stuff, but I've never seen anything to make me believe there's one all-powerful force controlling everything. There's no mystical energy field controls my destiny.”

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Poster: William Tell Date: Jan 18, 2010 4:43am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Ride The Mighty High

"I don’t believe in a supernatural being."

Is that good enough? Jerry said it, not me...

Whoops--also forgot the other great quotes that sound just like what I said above, but even whackier (I love this one, but check out BD's story and you can get more):

"Jerry: I go along with the notion that the universe wants consciousness in it, that it’s part of the evolutionary motion of the universe and that we represent the universe’s consciousness. Why it wants it, I don’t know, but it seems to want it."



This post was modified by William Tell on 2010-01-18 12:43:18

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Poster: spacedface Date: Jan 16, 2010 5:49pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Ride The Mighty High

".it is clearly, IMHO anyhow, a complete rejection of the traditional, deity based notion of spirituality. This is an individualistic, humanistic form of spirituality, quite distinct and apart from traditional religious perspectives."

Again you can have those ideas in "religion" to a point.

As Jerry said above the idea is "to forget yourself is to see everything else." That's very difficult and even mystical, and in the end the real point behind mind expansion.

It is the real goal of religion. People, being limited and temporary, just have a hard time on trying to explain conscious existence which sort of is God.

Maybe you just disagree that the Deity is conscious existence. Anyway, the big wheel turns by the grace of God, and blues for Allah as God wills.

I didn't plan it but The Wheel came up as I typed that last sentence:
http://www.archive.org/details/gd89-07-19.sbd.437.sbeok.shnf